Thursday, January 25, 2007

Where I Grew Up

The following is a reposting from Cyber Chocolate, where it was a reposting from a short-lived blog o'mine called Retro-Spectives.

I'd posted this before, but not with the text. I think you can get maps like this on Google now, too.

This is an aerial map of where I grew up in south Queens, NY. The x is the house I lived in from age 5 to 16 and the z is my elementary school.

This map is from a few years ago, so things are a bit different than they were back in the '60s (well, from 1958 - 1969) when we lived in this neighborhood. Half my block was a big ditch until the mid-60s, when they filled it in and put up 4 houses. That was when they put the sewers in. Before that, we had to make do with the septic tanks under the front lawns.

Before they filled in the ditch, we kids used it for sledding in the winter. It was just the right steepness for us when we were still fairly young (and short). Sometimes, water pooled at the bottom and if we got lucky, it froze, giving us a decent size "pond" to skate on if we took turns. And if we didn't mind sticks and branches poking through. The body of water to the left of my house is a canal (called a basin) that empties into the Gateway National Park, which wasn't a park back then, just plain old, polluted Jamaica Bay. It leads out into the Atlantic. To the right, out of the picture, was the old town neighborhood, with houses on stilts over another section of the bay, hardly the image people have when they think of New York City. I haven't been there in years, though the last time, I saw chain stores down the main drag instead of the little restaurants and shops, many of which catered to fisherman and were little more than shacks. I think the bowling alley is still there, also out of the photo, but to the left.

Back then, my neighborhood was mostly a five block radius; I never got this sort of perspective on it. Pretty cool to now be able to put it in its full context.


  1. Shelly, I can't tell you how much I love this post. Queens has always been a place I've wanted to visit since I was little--just from all the shows/films etc. that are based in Queens. New York seems like a magical place to grow up in.

    It's funny, when you're older how you can put things into context. It took me a long while too, to figure out the ins and outs of my neighbourhood, as it related to the bigger city.

  2. You're all going too fast for me.

    I can't keep up to the postings!

  3. I've been trying my damndest to forget where I grew up. Seeing an ariel picture of it is not high on my list of things to do. ;)


  4. Queens was so not city-like that we called going into Manhattan, going into "the city."

    Steve, sounds like a story there. :)

  5. I agree with Shelly, sounds like you have a story there Steve. Perhaps one you could share with us? :)


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